I watched 65 movies in 2020. That sounds like a lot, even for a lockdown / quarantine / stay-at-home kind of year, even for someone with no kids.
On the other hand, I don’t watch television.
Let that sink in.
TV shows add up fast! Movies don’t require the same time commitment. They come in self-contained 90-minute or two-hour chunks. Movie marathons are less likely to occur than TV binge-watching because not every movie is part of a series, and movies don’t tend to end in cliffhangers.
See below for stats and favorites.
Statistics on Movies Watched in 2020
About half of the movies I saw, I was rewatching.
I watched the entire Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movie series. That was fun. I also watched three of the Men in Black movies and both Trons.
I saw very few new releases in theaters this year; four in the period from January to March, one in September after theaters in Singapore reopened (with capacity restrictions).
Nine of the movies were animated. One of them—Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)—was stop-motion. You know what? I really don’t get Wes Anderson films.
The oldest movie I watched was It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), which I hated. The next-oldest one I watched was Watership Down (1978), which I loved.
I watched two documentaries—Helvetica (2007) and Behind the Curve (2018). I’m not much of a documentary person, so I’m surprised I watched any.
Favorite Movies Watched in 2020
Not necessarily the best of all time.
I love family films that are cute and entertaining but also say something important, often something about the individual’s power to choose.
The Iron Giant (1999)
What if a gun had a soul? Could it choose not to kill?
How do you get people to give you power? By inventing a threat. Fear always works.
What makes someone good or bad? Destiny, environment, or choice?
All three of these movies are ridiculously exaggerated in some way but all of them have something important to say about being human.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” Origin of the quote.
The Truman Show (1998)
You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool Truman forever. Truth sets us free.
The Invention of Lying (2009)
A world without stories is practically unimaginable. The ability to lie gives us the ability to choose to tell the truth.
I love me a good action film. Give me some spies, guns, high-tech gadgets, a chase sequence, an explosion, some witty dialogue, and a hero who saves the world from certain doom. If his name rhymes with Bomb Fuse, all the better.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)
This is the one where Ethan hangs off the side of a plane at the beginning. He’s captured by bad guys in a record shop. A mysterious woman named Ilsa Faust helps him escape a torture dungeon. He gets into a fight backstage at the opera in Vienna. He dives into a doughnut-shaped water tank to steal a file. There’s a motorcycle chase. Ethan captures the head of the Syndicate and saves the IMF.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)
This is the one that starts with a prison escape timed to a song. It also has a cool optical illusion in a hallway in the basement of the Kremlin. The Kremlin gets blown up. Ethan meets his team on a train but they are otherwise cut off from the IMF. They have to duplicate some nuclear launch codes at a meeting in the Burj Kalifa in Dubai. Then the dust storm hits. There’s a party at a mansion in Mumbai. The boss fight is in a cylindrical automated parking deck.
Mission Impossible (1996)
Such a classic. I remember when it launched and the theme music was on the radio. Exploding fish tank? Check. Hanging from the ceiling? Check. Showdown on a high-speed train? Check. Bluffing, betrayal, and face masks? You betcha.
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
This is a well-crafted thriller with high tension all the way through. One thing after another keeps you on the edge of your seat. During the cold war, a Russian submarine with new stealth tech, carrying nuclear missiles, sets out into the Pacific. What’s it going to do? Everyman Jack Ryan, an analyst who thinks the captain is going to defect, winds up right in the thick of things.
Philip K. Dick sci-fi adaptations that are more like Rom-Coms
I’ve seen a bunch of Philip K. Dick movies. Minority Report is a sci-fi adaptation that’s more like a murder mystery with overtones of horror. Yuck. The new Total Recall is a mess. The old Total Recall is a classic, but not to my taste. I could say the same for Blade Runner. I remember being disappointed by Impostor, and the reviews for Next are not good. But here are two adaptations that I happen to really like.
Memories make us who we are; our choices create our future. Michael trades his time and skills for money like most of us, but he also lets his employers erase all memory of his work. Then comes a project different from all the rest… and a woman he doesn’t want to forget.
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Most people are content to live predictable lives, nudged by external influences and satisfied with their fates; not David. After crossing paths with a
manic pixie dream girl dancer named Elise, nothing—not even guaranteed political success—can keep him from her.
We’re just going to call these Drama
Arrival is sci-fi, except it’s also about a family. Little Women is about a family and literally nothing else. Watership Down is about a colony of rabbits, but also politics and loyalty and bravery. Speed Racer is… a wonderful, colorful mess that didn’t know how to find its audience.
How often do insights from the field of Linguistics serve as the basis for an entire sci-fi plot, rather than just window dressing? Not very.
Little Women (2019)
The story is didactic and old-fashioned, but so classic and so American. This retelling does a decent job trying to reconcile the original tale with the sensibilities of a modern audience.
Watership Down (1978)
It’s not so much a children’s story as it is a myth created out of whole cloth. The movie remains true to the book even though, since it’s much shorter, it covers so much less ground. The scenery is beautiful and the music is haunting.
Speed Racer (2008)
Adrenaline-pumping car races and a strong theme of justice make this bizarre cult-classic an all-time favorite in spite of its flaws.